What would you do if the cost of childcare for your family was nearly as much or even more than you actually earn?
That is a question many families must face. Despite working multiple jobs to make ends meet, some families must choose between working and having a parent stay home because childcare is more than they can afford.
"We feel strongly that working parents are an essential part of our community by being able to provide for their families and paying taxes through the workplace, they are contributing to society and our local economy," explained Lycoming County United Way executive director Scott N. Lowery. "We would not want a family to feel they must choose for a parent to stay home because they cannot afford childcare so LCUW allocated $55,000 in funding this year to subsidize scholarships for families on a sliding scale at the YMCA."
"By making quality child care services available to families regardless of their ability to pay, we are giving the children the opportunity to develop social skills as well as academic skills that are necessary for future success," said Carolyn Hawk, child care director at the YMCA. "All of our child care programs utilize developmentally appropriate curriculums that enhance this development."
Child care programs at the Y serve children 6 weeks old through 12 years old.
One family affected by the United Way scholarships includes a father who works full time at a local manufacturing facility and a mother who works part-time at a grocery store and attends college part-time. Their two children, ages 2 and 4, thrive at the Y's childcare facility.
"I want to be able to get a better job so I am working on my associate's degree," the mother said. "We are hard workers and want to provide for our family but childcare costs for two add up. We are very appreciative for the support of United Way and the Y so we can continue to improve our lives. Someday, I look forward to being able to help others in the way we are being helped now."
In addition to traditional families, the Y reports seeing more cases of grandparents raising the children in recent years.
Last year two grandmothers approached the director of one of the Y's childcare centers for help. The two women had just obtained shared custody of their two grandchildren, a toddler and an infant, and needed help paying for daycare.
"We both have jobs but we could not afford full-time tuition for them. We were so grateful when we learned the YMCA could help through United Way funds and we could keep our jobs," said one of the grandmothers.
The River Valley Regional YMCA is the largest child care provider in Lycoming County, according to Hawk.
"We know in tough economic times like these, families need us more than ever to keep them as a productive part of our economy," said Hawk. "Without these services there would be a detrimental slide to the well-being of our children and ultimately our community."
"We are happy to be able to fund this program at the YMCA because it makes a genuine difference in the lives of not only the children and their early childhood education, but also strengthens the overall family unit and their well-being," concluded Lowery. "When parents work, they earn needed income, contribute to the overall community economy, and gain a sense of self-worth and satisfaction that is important in the families' everyday lives."
For more information about River Valley Regional YMCA programs call 323-7134 or visit the website at rvrymca.org.
For information on Lycoming County United Way or to support the campaign that funds more than 40 human service programs like these, visit lcuw.org or call 323-9448.